Snyder, K-State just keep winning
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Bill Snyder had plenty to smile about Saturday night.
The Kansas State coach's third-ranked team had just beaten TCU 23-10 in its usual methodical, grinding manner behind its Heisman Trophy front-runner quarterback, Collin Klein. Afterward, the Wildcats were informed that top-ranked Alabama had been upset at home by No. 15 Texas A&M.
Even with his Wildcats poised to jump to No. 1 in the BCS rankings for the first time in school history and firmly in control of their own destiny for the BCS title game, the 73-year-old was unfazed.
He cracked a grin just once publicly while doing an on-field television interview after the game. Snyder was just as robotic later when asked about Alabama's loss.
"I have no thoughts about it whatsoever," Snyder said. "I am just going to ask my guys as I always do to try to get better at practice on Monday."
That's typical of Snyder, who very well might have invented coachspeak. After all, this wasn't a style points win for Kansas State (10-0, 7-0 Big 12) or Klein, who completed 12-of-21 passes for 145 yards and an interception and rushed for two touchdowns.
Kansas State, which is used to winning this kind of game, survived behind Klein and an underrated, stingy defense that surrendered just 274 yards.
And while Snyder didn't want to state the obvious, TCU coach Gary Patterson did.
"That is a team that can play for a national championship," Patterson said of the Wildcats, who still face Baylor on the road and No. 19 Texas at home to conclude their regular season.
Leading up to TCU this week, questions swirled about Klein's availability after he left last week's win over Oklahoma State with an apparent head injury.
In pregame warmups, Klein's passes lacked velocity and hung lazily. And, after he threw a interception into double coverage on the game's fourth play, there was cause for concern.
But Klein quickly erased it with a 62-yard pass on the next possession that eventually set up his seven-yard touchdown run. His best play of the night came in the third quarter, when he reeled off a 34-yard touchdown run in which he avoided a pair of TCU defenders and then outran two more to reach the end zone.
In top-secret Snyder fashion, he didn't make Klein available to the media after the game.
"He played reasonably well," Snyder said of Klein, who ran for 50 yards on 15 carries. "He made the plays he had to make in the ball game, but we were probably a little conservative for him. We could have given him more chances that we did."
Snyder may be less than forthcoming when it comes to providing insight, but there's no doubt his team is the most disciplined in the country. Entering the game, it was tied with Navy as the least penalized team in the Football Bowl Subdivision and ranked first in fewest turnovers lost.
The Wildcats had also not allowed an opponent to score any points off turnovers all season until the Horned Frogs finally broke the streak in the game's final minute.
Even with the game in hand after Klein's second touchdown run, the Wildcats' self-control was evident.
After senior cornerback Nigel Malone dropped what could have been an interception for a touchdown return early in the fourth quarter, he dropped to the field and started doing pushups.
"We can always get better," said kicker Anthony Cantele. "I don't think even most people realize how good we could be. We've just got to keep improving."
The Wildcats' discipline is almost cultish, as are their propaganda-like answers to questions about the BCS rankings, Klein's injury status and more.
"We control our family," junior safety Jarard Milo said.
After the game, Kansas State players all wore the same black suit jacket bearing the gray Wildcats' logo. A majority also had a laminated placard hanging around their necks that specified their seat numbers on the incoming and outgoing plane rides.
The back of the placard had an extremely detailed schedule of the team's itinerary for the trip (bed check was 11 p.m. Friday).
Star senior linebacker Arthur Brown's placard wasn't visible when he met with the media, but he knew his seat assignment on the plane ride back to Manhattan.
"16A," Brown replied.
After Snyder answered questions from the media, he talked nearby with his daughter, Meredith, who sat on a motorized scooter; her husband; and the couple's three grandchildren, who hugged him, for several minutes. Before Snyder left them, he leaned over and kissed his daughter on the lips.
And throughout it all, Snyder remained true to himself. He didn't smile once.